Mindfulness at Work: Micro-inequities and Micro-affirmations

Micro-inequities

Micro-inequities (also called micro-aggressions) are subtle, sometimes seemingly harmless, comments or actions that devalue others. No matter how kind or aware we may consider ourselves to be, we all have the capacity to harmfully impact others by practicing micro-inequities. The challenge with micro-inequities is they often are not meant to intentionally cause hurt or harm, and they arise from a semi-conscious state. Here are a few examples:

Continuously mispronouncing or misspelling someone’s name

Rolling your eyes even when you think no one is looking

Cutting down ideas before they can be entertained

Sarcasm and disparaging jest

Interrupting or completing sentences for people

Acting disinterested in meetings

Micro-affirmations

Aside from being aware of our own tendencies, the best way to combat our potential to devalue others through micro-inequities is to practice micro-affirmations. These are subtle, but high impact, words and actions that affirm another’s value. Examples include:

Holding the door for someone

Saying hello

Introducing people to each other

Listening without interrupting

Acknowledging and making sure you fully understand someone’s idea or opinion

Acknowledging someone’s good work to others

Sometimes the simplest things can be the most challenging, but keep up! If we continue to become aware of our tendencies and keep practicing positive behaviors then we will begin to notice the benefits we offer others as well as the benefits we receive ourselves. Let’s work together for better outcomes!

Beware of the “Always Be Nice & Positive” Mentality

The people I admire the most are the people in my life who are really open and honest.

You always know what they are thinking without them being rude about what they don’t like.

They don’t sugar coat their bad days, their mistakes or their life challenges.

They laugh wholeheartedly.

They don’t let thoughts of rejection stop them, even though they hate it like everyone else.

They show their love openly.

They don’t cover their anger/fear/disappointment with a smile unless they actually feel like smiling in the moment.

If they want something they ask for it.

If they don’t want to do something they say “no.”

If I am being an asshole they kindly tell me so without being an asshole.

They are genuinely generous with their whole being.

They do not prewash their life in positivity for the sake of appearances.

They are not “nice” people, they are whole people.

Community Spirit & The Power of Group Practice

“Community is the new currency” – Steve Gold

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So I just got back from the California Spirit Festival.

This inagural event in the beautiful Masonic Temple in dowtown Sacramento was full of the most amazing people.

I danced  along side 5Rhythms teachers Douglas Drummond from San Francisco, and the most fabulous Bella Dreizler from Sacramento, while being led through the waves by 5 Rhythms teacher Amber Ryan  from Costa Rica.

Diana Vitantonio guided us with a gentle heart through a powerful Vinyasa class, accompanied by the live music of Girish and his band.

Then I danced and jumped the evening away to Mc Yogi.

This is just 3 of the 45 different classes that were available during the weekend.

My favorite part of the experience was deeply personal. Everywhere I looked were friends, many design clients & colleagues I have worked with throughout the years, past yoga students, incredible teachers in the fields of yoga, music, meditation and dance, and a ton of new, friendly faces. Every single one of them joyously connecting together. One moment I would walk into a room and run into Les Leventhal who I finally got a chance to thank for his recommendation that I get a scooter for the month I was in Bali when I ran into him at Michael Franti’s Soulshine Retreat Center back in September of 2011. The next moment I would turn a corner and run into Dr. Yogi and Sat Rattan Kaur, my Kundalini Yoga teacher trainers.

Among all this excitement was something else very interesting going on: Sacramento area yoga studios setting aside any idea of competition and integrating together into a united whole for the betterment of the  yoga community at large.

I also happen to know very intimately how much work it took by the team of people laboring out of love to make this festival a reality.

The energy around this group manifestation seeped right into my being. I realized how important it is for me to stay connected to community. I spend a lot of time working from home and practicing yoga in my living room, which is great, but there is a greater power in the energy of groups reaching towards a goal.

Working with the California Spirit Festival team to support them in producing the event led to a ton of growth in communication and time management. There were many people relying on me and many people I was relying on. In the same way, the dynamic of a group yoga class can give you that extra energy and focus to be fully present.

I worked. I played. I practiced yoga. I danced completely. I hugged A LOT of people. I even got some new design clients! For me, California Spirit Festival was a huge success, and I look forward to connecting even more at the event next year…and everyday!

What is even more amazing to me is all the incoming remarks from the participants and how transformative the experience was for them. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to help others create a space that supported so many people in their growth and wellness!

Get out there and connect with your people! Amazing things can happen!

P.S. You can find me all in black just behind Diana at the start of this video!

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Rebel with a Cause – Stop Being a People Pleaser

 Hey you! Yeah you! The person sitting there in your cubicle hating your boss or sitting on your couch crying over your relationship while you read this blog and dream of a better day. 

You rock! 

Seriously, I mean it. You have spent all these years languishing in a life you don’t want. That takes some major resolve to deal with the debilitating misery and boredom of your life. I commend you. You’ve got some big time willpower. 

Crazy huh? I bet you thought you didn’t have willpower, didn’t you? 

Now that your eyes have been open, for god’s sake, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN LIFE THAT YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO PLEASE YOUR: 

Parents. 

Conservative best friend from childhood…. (wait…what? LOVE YOOOU!)

Boss. 

Co-workers. 

Significant other. 

Etc. etc. etc…. (yawn…) 

Why are you doing this to yourself? 

FYI 1: Catering to the whims of what other people think you should be doing with your life does not make them happy.

FYI 2: People will approve and disaprove of you no matter what you are doing. 

FYI 3: YOU can totally be happy and successful even if you are totally not at this moment. 

FYI 4: If you think your life kinda sucks, I promise that the stress of changing it is way better than what you are doing now.

FYI 5: Relax man, most things are not a big deal. Take a deep breath. Shit passes (heh). 

FYI 7 (cause 6 is lame and I wanted to get to 10 FYI’s): You absolutely can make a living doing what you want. The internet is pretty awesome. You can learn anything. Stop making excuses. 

FYI 8: It IS better to be alone than to be in an unhappy relationship. Great things can happen when you are alone. Relationships that don’t coincide with who you are and what you want, drain all your energy until you’re dead. 

FYI 9: The fear of loosing everything is pretty scary (being a fear and all). Actually loosing everything (ok maybe not EVERYTHING) can be one of the greatest gifts you may ever experience in life. 

FYI 10 (whew…I made it): People who try and make you feel like you shouldn’t start your own business, travel the world, or whatever that thing is that you want to do, are INSANELY jealous of your verve. Nothing more.

I would apologize for sounding a little brash, being that this is a yoga blog (partially) and therefore I **SHOULD** be using a higher vibration of conscious communication, right? Whatever. I am who I am. You are who you are. And sometimes you just gotta be set straight about the fact that you are perfectly set crooked. Embrace it, get out there and live your own damn life on your own damn terms. THEN maybe you can start thinking about how you are going to truly and deeply affect others in a positive way.

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Making Friends While Traveling and The Art of Great Conversation

On my travels in Bali I have had the good fortune to meet some really incredible people from around the world.

There is a level openness that I have experienced with people while traveling that doesn’t always occur as quickly when people are in there natural habitats. Don’t miss out! Keep reading…

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A Powerful Commitment – Releasing Our Negative Talk of Others

Today I invite us to make a commitment. A commitment that will immediately start changing our lives and the lives of those around us. A commitment that will immediately end many future negative experiences and losses for ourselves and an untold number of people. This single commitment will change our thought processes and emotional state so considerably, that hindrances and obstacles to living our dreams, loving others and being loved by others will  begin to fall away with ease. Don’t miss out! Keep reading…

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I Know I Am But What Are You? Writing an I AM Statement

Last year in Sukhbir Kaur’s 40 Day Transformation training she asked us to write an “I am” statement. Most of us in the training started out with the usual labels: I am a mother, I am a yoga teacher, I am a woman, I am a husband, I am a son, etc. Then, we were asked to go deeper and to start thinking more expansively about who we wanted to be, what we wanted to do and how we wanted to feel in all areas of our existence. After looking at it again today, even though there are many things I could add and expand upon, I find it to still be incredibly pertinent on my path and something I am actively working towards.

Here is my “I am statement.” It is my hope that it offers you inspiration for writing your own. THINK EXPANSIVE.

Updated 8/5/11

I am… a human being, a being of strength, grace, power and light which shines through in both my presence and reputation.

I am… healthy, energetic and long living.

I am… a teacher, a student, a healer and a giver.

I am… an expansive and creative thinker, continuously coming up with ideas for solutions and growth which I can use to earn money as well as to give back in service.

I am… an effective leader and powerful supporter. People seek me out to spread important messages to others.

I am… practicing yoga and meditation daily.

I am… a  teacher who uplifts and inspires others all over the world.

I am… a person who people feel instantly comfortable and relaxed with. My presence is open and welcomeing which allows people to let down their guard and be open and honest with me. I greet and leave people with hugs, keep eye contact, listen intently and share upliftment.

I am… an inspiration to others. People seek me out for wisdom that will support their life.

I am… able to easily make friends and surround myself with people whose friendship is mutually supportive.

I am… a person who earns $20,000 plus a month doing only the things I enjoy the most while reliable people support me by doing the things I need done that I do not choose to handle myself and are they are compensated well in pay, time flexibility, opportunity, along with emotional, mental and spiritual fullfillment.

I am… debt free and save 15% of my income.

I am… the most reliable person people know. I do what I say I am going to do by the time I say I am going to do it and be where I say I am going to be, when I say I am going to be there.

I am… a sought after designer.

I am… an artist and a poet.

I am… a motivating and inspiring writer and public speaker.

I am… an entrepreneur and business partner helping to start and grow successful businesses which support people and the environment for a greater good.

I am… a generous philanthropist, activist and advocate for human rights and environmental sustainability.

I am… able to spend my time and money freely as I choose as my income is not based off of the amount of time I work and what I want to do with my time is not limited by how much money I make.

I am… a world traveler, often spending months living and working with friends and family in other countries such as Italy, Baja, France and Bali.

I am… an effective and uplifting communicator in any type of situation. I am able to listen intently with an open mind and heart. I am not swayed by critisism, no do I rely on praise for my confidence. My words are so clear and well understood with a noticeable kindness that people always react positively when I speak.

I am… a person who money comes to easily and I often get paid large sums of money for my insights and ideas.

I am… surrounded by amazing and supportive people who love me unconditionally and desire that I succeed.

I am… emotionally stable and able to make concsious choices versus being reactive to others negativity as well as experiences from my own past.

I am… always having fun. Everything I do brings me pleasure and enjoyment.

I am… a consumer of highly nutritious and delicious food that is cultivated sustainably.

I am… calm and relaxed even during times of great challenge.

I am… dancing and singing freely.

I am… a sound sleeper, waking up rested and ready every morning.

I am… able to give and receive love and intimacy from all of the people who are apart of my life.

I am… fulfilled in my relationship. I share the same values, interests and motivations as my partner while also enjoying autonomy. We love each other more than we ever thought we could love another and are capable of fulfilling each others intellectual, emotional, mental, spiritual and sexual needs in such a way that honors our differences as well as similarities.

I am… comfortable and joyful in social situations. I am able to bring value to and enjoy the company of many different groups while maintaining a strong sense of self.

I am… confident in the beauty of my body. My skin is radiant and resiliant. My body stays at it’s optimum weight. My muscles are strong and flexible . I am pain free. I can perform any physical exercise I choose with minimal practice and I get healthier as I age. When people see me after longer periods of time they notice that I look better than the last time they saw me.

I am… a loving and supportive parent who meets the needs of my child throughout out his long and happy life. I am raising a son with high values and all the skills he needs to live his best life.

I am… in a heightened state of intention and awareness.

I am I am.

And you?

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Start Connecting with People for a Joyful and Healthy Life

As a yoga teacher I often encounter the same scenario at the start of a yoga class.

Students come in and sit down as far apart from each other as possible. When  I am teaching I will often wait till everyone is situated in their comfortable spot and then right before the start of class I have everyone move closer together towards the front. When I do this, the level of discomfort in the room is noticeable. This is, of course, one of the reasons why I do it. After all, one of the many wonderful aspects of yoga is it’s ability to take us beyond our comfort level.

Many people go about their day with minimal contact with other people. They create walls and keep their distance, which hinders them from connecting with others physically, sharing emotional intimacy even with those they are closest to, and also avoiding any kind of contact with strangers.

Recently I have been riding my bike to my office. It is a leisurely, half hour ride through the beautiful tree lined streets of Sacramento. By the 3rd day I started to notice something very interesting: I felt more connected to other people. In any given bike ride people wave to me, say hi to me, smile at me, nod towards me, and sometimes even go out of their way to compliment me on some aspect of my physical appearance, my bike or just the fact that I am obviously commuting on my bike, versus driving to work. One day on my bike ride to and from work I counted almost 30 separate instances of positive communication between myself and others.

How many people do I communicate in this pleasant manner with when I am driving? Zero.  As we all know, if there is any communicating with others while we are boxed inside our vehicles it is usually a negative experience!

It is amazing to me how much more elevated my mood is by the time I get to work when I am riding my bike. Partly because of the exercise, but partly because I already started my day with so many pleasent moments with other human beings.

People need to make positive connections with other people in order to be healthy. Loneliness and separation are a major contributing factor to stress and depression which cause dis-ease in our body.

If you find that you are spending your day avoiding contact with other people or are just looking to connect more often, here are a few things you can try in order to start breaking down you barriers:

Strike a up a friendly conversation with the person working the supermarket register.

Spend a day making eye contact with everyone you pass by.

Smile and say hi as you pass someone walking on the sidewalk.

Give your significant other or children a hug everyday (at least 1!).

Sit down next to someone in your yoga class who you haven’t met before and introduce yourself.

Call a friend you don’t normally talk to on the phone and have a chat.

Get off of Facebook and go out to dinner with a friend.

Next time someone invites you to a gathering where you hardly know anyone…go!

When Traveling:

If you want an incredible travel experience, I highly recommend you stop sight seeing and start looking for opportunities to engage with the people of the culture.

See if you have any friends who know someone in the country you are visiting and try to meet up with them.

Stay as a guest in someones house by utilizing websites like AirBnB.com.

Live and work with a family through websites like Workaway.info.

(You can often find hosts who are yoga practitioners on both of the above sites!)

Do your best to speak the language even if you feel you are not ready.

The best experiences in life are the ones we share with others. You will find that as you start connecting more with other people that not only will you feel elevated, you will be giving the same gift to others.